Design in Different Context – Food Tourism

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Brian Lo

 

Food and the practice of eating is obviously an essential aspect or component of human being survival, and for the majority of the general public within the world food has became a fundamental part of daily routine; it is a human necessity (Henderson 2014, Henderson 2015). Therefore, food cultures and practices have obtained extensive attentions in these recent years. There are various functions or activities could be performed and accomplished by food, not just only satisfying the human’s physical and physiological needs. As a result of the social, economical and cultural of food, it is finally gaining the recognition as it deserved (Hall, Sharples, Mitchell, Macionis, & Cambourne 2004, Henderson 2015). Many studies and research have evidenced that there is an intensive bonding between food and tourism. Other than that, food has become one of the most significant subjects in the media. For instance, magazine; Cuisine, Australian Gourmet Traveller, or Food & Travel; radio shows, television shows; Master Chief; or event documentary (Hall, Sharples, Mitchell, Macionis, & Cambourne 2004), assist to create awareness and enhance the relationship or connection within food and tourism. Phillips L. (2006) has described how “food has been mobilized as commodity in global production and trade system, and also governed through global institutions” in his Annual Review; “Food and Globalization”.

Food would also be one of the important elements that assist to shape today’s Singapore identity. Singapore contains its own unique and defining features, in 1819, Stamford Raffles stated that Singapore became a trading post from the British East India Company (Henderson 2014), which was remarkable turning points that determine the food culture of Singapore. The early arrivals with diverse backgrounds such as Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, and multi-diversity, arrived into Singapore with their own cuisine in the 1965 when it became an independent republic. This influence could force the perspective on food to be an invaluable design that represents the food industry of Singapore.

The unique food culture design of Singapore has been converted into an international business. The practice of food in Singapore becomes the tourism resource and the new identity of the nation. Furthermore, food could also be a design that allow and encourage tourists to obtain more understanding about cultures and history (Henderson 2015) and this is the reason why “eating is often a major determinant of tourist satisfaction” (Kivela and Crotts, 2006).  Moreover, food is actually a form of storytelling, it assists to narrate, the cultural history, rituals, or even practices from different perspective, this meant that the tourists could physical experience and understand of another culture by experiencing their cuisines.

By using one of the iconic dishes; chicken rice, in Singapore as an example, this cuisine has already turned into a heritage or even a work of art that encourages individuals to understand Singaporean way of living and their essential part to the nations. Design might not be physical; it could appear in different forms.

 

 

References:

Björk, P. 2016, ‘Local food: a source for destination attraction’, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 117-194.

Hall, C.M., Sharples, L., Mitchell, R., Macionis, N. & Cambourne, B. 2004, Food tourism around the world, Routledge, NY.

Henderson, J.C. 2014, ‘Food and culture: in search of a Singapore cuisine’, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, vol. 116, no. 6, pp. 904-917.

Henderson, J.C. 2015, ‘Food as a tourism resource: a view from Singapore’, Routledge, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 69-74.

Kivela, J. and Crotts, J. 2006, “Tourism and gastronomy: gastronomy’s influence on how tourists experience a destination”, Journal of Hospitality and Tourism, vol. 3 no. 30, pp. 354-377.

Phillips, L. 2006, “Food and Globalisation”, Annual Review of Anthropology, vol. 35, pp. 35-57.

 

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Singapore: The Evident Poverty

When the name ‘Singapore’ is mentioned in a conversation, it is often connoted as a lively tourist-hub that attracts travellers from all around the world; or as the article Reconfiguring the Singapore identity space: Beyond racial harmony and survivalism suggests:

“…the jewel of Southeast Asia where residents enjoy a high standard of living and a stable socio-political environment.” (Hong et al. 2014)

This blogpost will explore to what extent this statement is true, and go deeper into how and why Singaporean residents are able to enjoy such high standards of living. It will be done so by revealing an evident poverty line in its society, containing illegal domestic workers that are exploited by those who can afford to.

On the surface, most social media websites promote Singapore as a bustling, tourist-filled country that is rich in food culture and diverse in race (Destination Flavour Singapore 2016), as seen in this video below of a commercial television program that showcases the ‘unique flavours’ of Singapore, hosted by Adam Liaw.

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Screenshot of Destination Flavour Singapore

However, as diverse and multicultural and multi-racial a country can be, Singapore’s racial hierarchy draws a border between itself and its female migrant domestic workers who have much less freedom in a thriving and wealthy nation (Kobayashi 2015). An everyday life for a migrant domestic worker is far from ‘enjoying a high standard of living’, as they are not only in the house for domestic service, but also of domestic abuse (Huang & Yeoh 2007).

From this short informative documentary provided by Al Jazeera English, it can be seen that young non-Singaporean girls from poor families are taken advantage of when they dream of being employed to earn money for a decent living. Girls, as young as 15 years old are interviewed in this video, had to live under a false identity in order to gain employment as a domestic worker in Singapore. As Steve Chow investigates the illegal workers’ circumstances, he highlights the fact that there are Myanmar and Singapore laws that were “written to protect [these] girls”, however not a single authority has taken action. (Al Jazeera English 2016, 22:40)

According to Timothy Mcdonald reporting on BBC News,

“Singapore is famous for its strict rules, discipline can have a very real impact [on the country’s economic state].. Doing business is easy and corruption is minimal.” (BBC 2015)

And yet there are still infamous exploitations of young domestic workers, placed in Singapore under illegal working visas and are often beaten, abused or even locked away.

So the statement: ‘Singaporean residents enjoy a high standard of living and live in a stable socio-political environment’ could be  considered fairly true, and a third party would also agree upon brief glance, however, with deeper understanding and research on the social hierarchy that stands in this multicultural country, it can be seen that there is a transparent mask that attempts to hide the young cogs that aid in a flourishing society. The evidence is there and the world can see what is being done to the illegal female migrant domestic workers, but they can also see what is not being done to solve it. This issue has been brought to light for over a decade now and yet the Singaporean government are more concerned about the economic and commercial impression it has to its surrounding countries (BBC 2015).


Reference List:

Al Jazeera English 2016, 101 East – Maid in Singapore, video recording, Youtube, viewed 19 January 2017, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQbd2XZGyXg>

BBC 2015, Singapore: From third world to first, United Kingdom, viewed 17 January 2017,< http://www.bbc.com/news/business-32012069>

Destination Flavour Singapore 2016, television program, SBS On Demand, Australia, 12 January.

Hong, J., Leong, C., Lim, S. & Yang, W.W. 2014, ‘Reconfiguring the Singapore identity space: Beyond racial harmony and survivalism’, International Journal of Intercultural Relations, vol. 43, part A, November 2014, pp. 13-21.

Huang, S. & Yeoh, B.S.A. 2007, ‘Emotional Labour and Transnational Domestic Work: The Moving Geographies of ‘Maid Abuse’ in Singapore’, Mobilities, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 195-217.

Kobayashi, Y. H. 2015, ‘Renationalisation of space in everyday life in Singapore’, Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture, vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 410-422.